Nowadays, cholesterol has become one of the most familiar words, as it is said to be the common risk factor for a host of life-threatening medical conditions. However, such a risk can be minimized with routine blood tests, to monitor your cholesterol levels. When it comes to the preparation for the test, fasting is considered very important. It is believed that, fasting before the test ensures accurate results.
Fasting Before a Cholesterol Blood Test
This blood test is meant to detect the levels of cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood. Otherwise known as lipid profile testing, lipoprotein analysis, or lipoprotein profile; this test provides the levels of HDL, LDL, triglycerides, and total cholesterol. While HDL is the good cholesterol and LDL is the bad cholesterol; triglycerides are fatty acids that form a major part of the fat deposits in the body.
Regular monitoring is of much importance, if you want to reduce the risk of various medical conditions, like heart attacks and strokes. According to experts, those who are above the age of 20, must go for this blood test, once in every five years. Fasting before the test, is one of the requirement of the test. The person has to fast for eight to 12 hours, immediately preceding the test. Overnight fasting is preferred, as the test can be done, early in the morning.
The main purpose of fasting before a blood test, is to obtain accurate results. Intake of food may affect the accuracy of the test, as the blood would absorb components of the food, that can affect the cholesterol levels, especially, the LDL (bad cholesterol) levels. Some recent studies rubbish this claim, stating that food consumption does not affect the cholesterol levels. However, fasting still continues to be an integral part of a cholesterol blood test, as there is no conclusive evidence to prove the contrary.
How to Fast Before a Cholesterol Blood Test
The time span for such fasting may range between nine to 12 hours. In some cases, 14 hours of fasting is also recommended for a cholesterol blood test. It is always better to opt for an early morning blood test, as overnight fasting may not be so wearing. You must inform the doctor about your current medication, including oral contraceptives. This is very important, as drugs, like corticosteroids and diuretics, may affect the cholesterol level. You have to avoid alcohol consumption, chewing gum, and excessive smoking, two days prior to the test. You must drink enough water, to avoid dehydration. Drinks other than water are not usually recommended. Seek the opinion of your doctor regarding consumption of coffee, tea, and other beverages.
In short, cholesterol blood test fasting can be inconvenient; but not difficult, if you plan in the right way. Go for overnight fasting, if it is possible. Ensure that you do it properly, according to the instructions provided by your doctor. So, don't avoid or delay your routine cholesterol blood test because of fasting.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.